Our First Winter in a High-Performance Energy-Efficient Home

| 4/7/2014 9:48:00 AM

Tags: Energy-Efficient Home, Solar Homes, Solar Power, HRV System, Sarah Lozanova,

“Where are the driveways?” asks one guest visiting Belfast Cohousing & Ecovillage (BCE). “How strange, these houses don’t have any driveways!” Even the layout of the homes demonstrates that this is not a typical subdivision. But that's just the beginning.

My family recently purchased a high-performance house in BCE, a multigenerational community with 36 homes. Despite the cold winters here in Midcoast Maine, we have no furnace and no radiators. Our house is heated primarily from solar gains, its occupants, appliances, and modest use of baseboard electric heaters.

Solar Home
Photo by Jeffrey Mabee

“My feet, hands, and nose get cold really easily,” explains Penny West, a BCE member. “This house is so lovely because there are no drafts. I used to freeze while doing computer work in my last place. I bought boots, wore my hat, but here it is lovely.”

During our cold winters, BCE residents often comment on how comfortable the homes are. Even during windy subzero nights, there are no drafts when we are sitting in front of the triple-pane windows and doors. With highly insulated walls, ceilings, and foundations, all of the rooms are naturally the same temperature, and there are no cold rooms in the houses. Generous amounts of sunlight make supplemental light unnecessary until evening.

Despite their airtight construction, these energy-efficient homes have a constant stream of fresh air entering the bedrooms as the stale air is removed from the kitchens and bathrooms with a Zehnder heat recovery ventilation (HRV) system. This allows very high air quality in the winter, without the need to open any windows.

6/12/2014 2:01:26 AM

Insulating your ceiling,walls and attic is the first important task towards creating an energy-efficient house.Windows also play a vital role so replace aluminum frames as they attract heat. Proper ventilation is also important so hire a best http://www.grannyflatfinder.com.au/ventilation-review-top-5-must-know-tips-choosing-system/ professional to make your house highly energy-efficient.

4/7/2014 8:20:22 PM

Thanks for posting this informative article. I also have a heat-recovery ventilation system in my passive house and have found the air quality very good despite airtight walls and windows. And I love the fact that there are no driveways near the homes--it makes it much easier for kids to play without danger from passing cars. I remember being able to roam my neighborhood when I was a boy and regret that our society's car culture often prevents kids from experiencing that freedom.

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